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What is Google Caribou?

I’m at “SXSW”: this week, enjoying warm weather and (relatively) interesting sessions.
I’m still not really used to people in the audience having their laptops open surfing the web wirelessly. It looks like more of a distraction than a benefit and most people seem to use it to check their e-mail and visit the blogs of the panel participants when bored.
This of course leads to some unavoidable voyeurism as it is pretty much impossible not to look at a neighbour’s screen as they surf.
During the “Blogging Showdown”: panel this morning, I noticed that an attendee from “Blogger”: was checking an application called “Caribou”. The logo and interface were clearly Google, looking much like a Gmail clone. There was a small “alpha” under the Caribou logo, but other than that I couldn’t really make anything out before the laptop was closed.
So, what is Google Caribou?
Well, after some initial excitement that I had a scoop on a Google RSS reader or something like that, I find that (“in all likelihood”: Caribou was the pre-beta name for Gmail.
Still it seems odd that an online version of an alpha release is still available. Is it possible that Google is recycling the name and using it for internal alpha versions of Gmail upgrades?


  1. neilio
    neilio March 22, 2005

    Ah, but there was also the SXSW “back channel”, consisting of either the unofficial SXSW IRC chat or Apple’s iChat. A lot of people were using either (or both) of these to hold a secondary level conversation on the panel they were currently sitting in.
    This happened in one of the panels I was in. One of the panellists stated a fact, which was quickly pointed out as incorrect in IRC. The panellist was also logged into IRC, noticed that they had made the error, and pointed this out later on in their presentation.
    Very cool.

  2. Big Jilm
    Big Jilm November 8, 2005

    Caribou is what Google employees use to check their Google mail. It includes some features that Gmail does not yet.

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